More than $1 million in foundation renovations have been completed despite challenges
The jewel of Huntington Harbor will be opening its doors to welcome visitors for the first time in more than two years.
The Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the structure, will offer its first tour of the lighthouse July 15 after completing $1.1 million in repairs. A ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for July 11 to celebrate the structure’s reopening.
“It’s been a very long two years,” said Pamela Setchell, president of the preservation society. “We keep walking around pinching ourselves that we did it. We did it. We’re thrilled out of our minds.”
“We keep walking around pinching ourselves that we did it. We did it.”
– Pamela Setchell
Tours of the lighthouse will be offered by volunteers on a first-come, first-serve basis from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. once a month. Guests must be wearing flat, rubber-soled shoes to board the boat, according to Setchell.
The nonprofit organization last offered a tour of the historic landmark in September 2015 before the building was closed for phase one of restoration efforts to its exterior foundation. The lighthouse was in danger of becoming unstable and crumbling into the water.
Frank Scobbo, vice president of Port Washington-based Scobbo Foundation Systems, was hired as the contractor to shore up the 100-year-old structure.
“It was a labor of love, commitment and dedication to get the jewel of the harbor repaired,” Scobbo said.
He and his approximately 10-person staff took on the daunting task of replacing the damaged rebar, or steel reinforcement, in the lighthouse’s foundation, patching sheetrock and concrete in the underwater structure.
“The sheer location was one of the primary issues,” Scobbo said.
Working on a building located a mile offshore, the contractor said extensive pre-planning was necessary to account for the tides, currents and changing weather conditions each day. In 2016, a sudden squall sent waves crashing over the deck of a barge full of stone for the lighthouse’s base, causing it to take on water, according Scobbo. It required a rapid response of two Huntington Bay constables, Stephen Taylor and Timothy Lutz, and Scobbo’s crew to prevent the boat from sinking.
“It was a labor of love, commitment and dedication to get the jewel of the harbor repaired.”
– Frank Scobbo
“It was very scary, it probably took a couple of years off my life,” Scobbo said.
All supplies and equipment needed to be transported out via boat and a single forgotten item could have meant a 45-minute trip back to shore, according to the contractor. Scobbo said these challenges made the lighthouse’s restoration one of the most difficult projects he’s ever worked on, having previously repaired Stepping Stones Light in Nassau County and restored a 200-year-old Times Square building.
The Huntington Harbor Lighthouse still requires some additional work, according to the contractor, including the placement of more boulders on the east side of the structure and window replacements.
“They have a lot of work to do, but now the most important part is done,” Scobbo said.
The cost of the project was paid for through approximately $740,000 fundraised by the preservation society that was used to secure a matching $250,000 state grant, and a $145,000 grant received from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation in September 2017.
Those interested in taking a tour of Huntington Harbor Lighthouse can find a full list of tour dates on the preservation society’s website at www.huntingtonlighthouse.org/tours.php. Tickets cost $20 per adult, $15 for seniors and $10 for children age 5 or older, with family discounts available. Children younger than age 5 are not permitted due to safety issues and insurance concerns.